Kawehi is best known for being a DIY singer-songwriter, beatboxer, and one-woman orchestra. First going viral with her cover of Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” her YouTube channel of 9.6 million views showcases her vocal, instrumental, and looping abilities via covers of hit songs and original work. She is known for melting faces at shows all over the country, including Kollaboration SF 5 in 2014, for which she acted as a headline. She can recently be seen in the “Experience Amazing” commercial for Intel, where she’s briefly seen giving a modern take on Beethoven’s “5th Symphony.”
Within the last four years, she’s released EPs of her own music and on February 26, she dropped her seventh work, “Interaktiv.” In an interview via e-mail, Kawehi discusses the making of this new body of work and how over 900 people got involved in the creative process.
How would you describe your new EP “Interaktiv” (in terms of sound, style, subjects, tone, etc.)?
It’s a no genre EP – more like a conversation/discussion than commercialized singles. The song subjects were all decided as a collective – the 900+ people who made the project happen and myself.
Every EP you’ve created has always been under a specific theme. How did you come up with the theme for this one?
Themes! I know. We’ve done so many different themes – an all vocal EP, an EP made with toy instruments – I wanted to come back home with this one. I make it a point to do as much personal interacting with my fan base as possible, by answering as many e-mails/Facebook comments/wall posts/tweets as I can. I thought it’d be great to include them into the creative journey as well.
You had your Kickstarter backers heavily involved with the creative process of “Interaktiv.” Why did you decide to do that?
Everything about doing EPs through crowd funding, if you think about it, is interactive. At least I think it should be. You have fans who believe in your craft so much, they’re willing to shell out their hard earned money to make your dream a reality. While I try to make my incentives as cool as possible, I think the bottom line is that people get involved in my projects because they believe in them. That’s a huge f**king thing. So Paul (my husband) and I thought – well, if the fans are making this project happen, shouldn’t they get a say in what I create? Shouldn’t they be involved in the process? That’s how “Interaktiv” came about. It’s incredibly important to me that I stay connected to my fans/supporters. I wouldn’t be here without them.
With such big input from your fan base and backers, did you have any difficulties at all over the course of creating the EP?
It was definitely more work. While I usually write based on my own personal thoughts/rages/happiness, it was different this way. It was a consensus. We didn’t always agree on everything. I had to stay incredibly organized – going through each backer’s responses and making a list and putting things to a vote – it was daunting at times. But I learned a lot about my fan base, about myself – and I felt incredibly connected to them as a human being. That feeling of knowing you’re not alone – it’s inspiring.
In what ways did this experience help you grow as an artist?
As a rule, I always look back at each project and think – did I grow from this? And the answer is always yes. That’s what I love about being a musician – there are always places to improve, things to learn. I never look back at these experiences and think, “Yup, nailed that one. Can’t get any better than me right now!” Feel free to kick me in the tooth if I ever do. The day I look back at a project and don’t feel that growth, I’ll know it’s time to throw in the towel. I hope that never happens.
This is your seventh original release within the last four years. What are your thoughts about your journey so far, and what do you predict will happen in the future?
The journey has been incredible. Yes, there were times when I wanted to punch myself in the face – but at the end of the day, I get to do what I love – I get to make music my way and keep a roof over our heads, and pizza and wine on the table. I’m living the dream, yo.
Kawehi is currently on tour for “Interaktiv.” Be sure to check out which city she’s headed to next, as well as ticket information.